The proposed Basic Law: Torah Study is an extremist proposal to enshrine the principle of inequality in our law books. Its adoption could undermine the IDF’s model of service and place Israel’s national security in jeopardy
In light of the initiative of the ultra-Orthodox parties in the Knesset to promote a Basic Law that will allow a blanket exemption from military service for those pursuing Torah studies, IDI leaders are calling to cancel the legislative proposal.
Yohanan Plesner, President of the Israel Democracy Institute and his two research Vice Presidents, Prof. Yuval Shany and Prof. Yedidia Stern, sent a letter today to the Knesset members, explaining that while Torah study is an important value, a law that will completely exempt all yeshiva students from service duty will thwart any future attempts to promote an equal shouldering of the burden.
Plesner, Shany and Stern explain that the value of equality is not currently anchored in Israel’s Basic Laws, and therefore it is an especially provocative proposal that seeks to establish in the Basic Law an anti-egalitarian arrangement contrary to the Declaration of Independence. Moreover, Basic Laws are intended to define the fundamental values of the state; they are not to be used a tool of political expediency to solve some specific need.
Finally, the authors note that the proposed law may also have far-reaching ramifications beyond military service. For example, it could have a bearing on the core educational curriculum taught in Israeli schools, and state support of educational institutions that do not teach it. The proposed law will undermine the public's trust in the Knesset and harm the ability to sustain the IDF as a people's army in the long term.
Attached is the full letter